Some provisions in the current version of the federal health care bill have some people concerned and they are wondering what changes in health care we may ultimately see.
The new federal health care plan is called the American Health Care Act (AHCA)
Purchasing Health Care Across State Lines
Two core principles of the new proposed health care plan are increased options and competition. The main objective of President Trump’s plan is to give access to health insurance to more people by increasing the competition, which is expected to lead to lower costs for health care coverage. Many people have health insurance but can’t even afford to use it, they’re simply paying for coverage so as not to be penalized by the government. The costs are extremely high if you don’t have proper specialist coverage, so it’s great to see more dentists and other specialists working together with insurance companies to get patients in the door.
During his presidential campaign, Trump often spoke about the difficulty in finding the right insurance plan when consumers are unable to purchase plans from health insurance providers in other states. In some states, there is currently only one provider to choose from. Trump argues that, from a free market point of view, the lack of competition between providers causes prices to remain high or to escalate.
According to Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House or Representatives, Tom Price, who is the new head of Health and Human Services, will deregulate the healthcare industry, allowing more choice and competition when purchasing health insurance.
Healthcare Coverage May Not be Mandatory
With the existing Affordable Care Act, there were stiff penalties imposed on individuals who did not purchase health care coverage. These stiff fines were imposed by the IRS and were scheduled to rise even higher in the near future.
On January 20, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order to stop the financial penalties for not having health insurance. The American Health Care Act is expected to leave the decision as to whether to buy health insurance in the hands of each individual; it will no longer be mandated by the federal government.
Medicare May No Longer be Under Federal Guidelines
A goal of ACHA is to give the state’s control over the Medicaid Program. At the current time, Medicaid is under federal regulations. Currently, Medicaid pays very little toward medical bills and Medicaid members are not allowed to be billed a co-pay amount. This results in fewer and fewer doctors who will accept Medicaid, and more recipients that will have to rely on medicare supplement plans for many treatments. According to Mark Prip from MyMedigapPlans.com, the best time to enroll in a Supplement plan is when your brand new to Medicare part B.
If the federal regulations are removed, states will be able to customize the Medicaid program to meet the specific needs of the poorest people in their state. It will also allow state legislators to take into consideration the doctors who cannot afford to stay in business unless they receive reasonable compensation for taking care of Medicaid patients.
Fewer People May be Covered
Since Medicaid may no longer be under federal control, there is a real concern that fewer people will be covered under the American Health Care Act than under the existing Affordable Care Act. ACA was in many respects an expansion of the Medicaid system. It is also a possibility that people may find it more difficult to qualify for Medicaid, which is the largest health insurer in the nation.
Medicaid insures a wide segment of the poorest people in our nation as well as students, many who may lose that insurance altogether. Therefore, doctors have expressed a concern about the possibility of fewer people having health insurance under the new plan.
Tax Credits May be Available to a Wider Segment of the Population
At the present time, the tax code discriminates against people who do not get health care coverage from their employer. For example, if a person is making $15 an hour, doesn’t qualify for Medicaid and doesn’t receive healthcare benefits from his job, the current tax code does nothing to help that person afford health insurance. On the other hand, if a person currently receives health care benefits from his company, he does qualify for tax credits.
The new plan is expected to be fairer. It may expand the opportunity to qualify for tax credits to people who pay income taxes but must purchase health insurance on their own.
There are several good changes that may occur with the new federal health care plan, such as being able to shop around for health insurance across state lines and a fairer tax credit policy for working people who buy their own insurance. However, if the federal government turns the reins of Medicare over to the states, we may see stricter rules for qualifying for that Medicare, which could result in fewer Americans being insured.